Preventing Cold and Flu
Ways to boost your immune system include the well known Vitamin C and Zinc. But with more than 60% of Australian’s low in Vitamin D, supplementing with Vitamin D is another weapon in your arsenal for preventing and treating colds and flu. There are 2 ways it can work, first by boosting your immune system and also because it is now believed to have an antiviral action.
Herbs to use through the winter months to help support your immune system, or to act as antivirals to prevent the virus infection you include:
- Echinacea immune enhancing
- Andrographis antiviral and antibacterial
- Elderberry antiviral
- Garlic antibacterial
Remember a healthy diet low in sugar and with lots of fresh vegetables and a few fruits can make a difference too! Include some herbal teas such as Licorice and Ginger to keep you warm and well.
As an aromatherapist I like to keep my environment as virus free as possible by diffusing essential oils that can kill airborne viruses. These include Eucalyptus, Lemon and Tea Tree essential oils. Just a few drops in a diffuser, or make up a room spray. In a 50ml spray bottle add 10 drops essential oil (10 drops in total) to 2 teaspoon of vodka, mix well, then add water to fill.
Treating Cold and Flu
At the very first sign of a possible cold or flu is the time to take some extra Vitamin C but also Elderberry. By using an antiviral herb early on, it is possible to kill the virus before it takes hold in your body. This will either prevent the cold or reduce the overall duration.
When a cold or flu does take hold, then once again using Vitamin C as it helps loosen mucous and makes it easier to move it out of the body. Herbs as listed above can also help reduce symptoms by fighting the infection.
Bone broths and vegetable soups, with extra garlic, can be easier to take when recovering and are much easier on sore throats. Manuka honey is wonderful for soothing sore throats, taken straight off the spoon or in a Herbal tea such as Licorice which is particularly good for soothing chesty coughs.
Essential oils can help with head colds or chesty coughs by using them in a steam inhalation or a chest rub. For a steam inhalation: in a glass or metal bowl (not plastic) add 2 cups of boiling water. Then add 4-6 drops of your essential oil and use a towel to cover bowl and head. Inhale steam for 10-20 minutes. You may need to take a breath of fresh air, or clear your nose from time to time, but return to the steam and persist for best results in clearing congestion.
Oils to use include:
- Eucalyptus as an antiviral and mucolytic
- Peppermint just one drop can help you breathe better
- Lavender as an antiseptic and relaxing oil to help sleep and recovery
- Pine is warming, antiviral and mucolytic
- Cedarwood is antiseptic for your lungs
Stay well and warm this winter!
Maria Mitchell is a qualified herbalist, energy healer, aromatherapist, workshop facilitator and author – with a passion for supporting your health wholistically.
Join Maria in her workshop on Essential Oils and have your FAQs answered.